Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. Stress is your body’s reaction to a challenge or demand, and we all know stress is bad. Stress causes illnesses ranging from common cold to cardiovascular diseases. In her TED talk, health psychologist Kelly McGonigal demonstrates how changing ones perception about stress can make life easier for people.
She recounts how a study made her rethink her whole approach to stress, “[Some] 182,000 Americans died prematurely, not from stress, but from the belief that stress is bad for you… When you change your mind about stress, you can change your body’s response to stress,” she says.
McGonigal goes on to say that studies have proven that your physical stress responses — which include heavy breathing, perspiration, palpitations, etc., — are just your body helping you to “rise to the occasion”.
“Your biological stress response is nudging you to tell someone how you feel, instead of bottling it up,” she says. She explains that the hormone, oxytocin, also known as the ‘cuddle hormone’, is released during stress and improves the impact of stress by social contact and support. “When life is difficult, your stress response wants you to be surrounded by people who care about you.”
“How you think and how you act can transform your experience of stress. When you choose to view your stress response as helpful, you create the biology of courage. And when you choose to connect with others under stress, you can create resilience,” says McGonigal. “And when you choose to view stress in this way, you’re not just getting better at stress, you’re actually making a pretty profound statement. You’re saying that you can trust yourself to handle life’s challenges. And you’re remembering that you don’t have to face them alone.”